AUGUSTA — The Maine Principals’ Association took the first step toward establishing a pitch count for high school baseball when its sports medicine committee approached the topic Wednesday.

“We feel it’s best to ask the (medical) experts,” said Phil St. Onge, the assistant principal at Nokomis High in Newport who was representing the MPA baseball committee.

Last month the National Federation of State High School Athletics, which sets playing rules nationally, said states must limit pitchers with pitch counts rather than innings beginning next season. The federation left the pitch count number up to each state.

The MPA baseball committee will meet Oct. 18 to come up with a number but first wanted input from the medical professionals on the sports medicine committee.

Dr. William Heinz, an Portland orthopedist, is a liaison to the sports medicine committee, as well as the chair of the National Federation of High School Associations medical board. Heinz said while a pitch count can help limit arm injuries, nothing can prevent them.

“Because of the increase in shoulder and arm injuries, we felt a better way to control this is pitch counts,” Heinz said. “The reality is there’s no magic number (of pitches).”

Heinz suggested a sliding scale for pitch counts, with varsity players allowed to throw more pitches than junior varsity and freshman players. St. Onge said how a pitch count is monitored will be a big topic for the baseball committee.

As a way to monitor pitch count, Heinz offered the example of Vermont, which already uses a pitch count limit.

In Vermont, a varsity pitcher is limited to 120 pitches. The junior varsity limit is 110 and middle school pitchers are held to 85 pitches in a game.

Each team keeps track and exchanges pitch counts each inning. Vermont schools are required to report pitch counts to a central authority after each game, Heinz said.

Currently, Maine high school pitchers are required three days’ rest between games if they pitch more than three innings in a game.

In Wednesday’s meeting, there was discussion about requiring more rest days, depending on the number of pitches thrown. For example, a pitcher throwing more than 75 pitches would be required to rest four days before taking the mound again, and a pitcher throwing 50 pitches would rest three days.

Chris Sementelli, the program manager for MaineGeneral’s training staff, said perhaps the baseball committee should clearly define rest.

“If a kid catches the next game (after pitching) and throws back to the mound 130 times in the game, is that really rest?” Sementelli said.

Mike Burnham, the MPA assistant executive director, said that at many of the state’s smaller schools, the team’s best catcher often also is the best pitcher. Adding another level of rest could make it difficult for some small schools to actually field a team.

“I’m lucky if we have 10 kids (play baseball),” said Charles Brown, the principal at Rangeley, whose enrollment was 65 students last year.

A new preseason policy should help coaches develop more pitchers. In the past each team could have a week of throwing workouts with eight pitchers and two catchers before full team practices began. Now teams will be allowed to have as many pitchers and catchers as wanted for those workouts.

“It’s really in (the coaches’) best interest to take care of that pitcher’s arm,” Heinz said.